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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  March 30, 2017 8:00pm-9:01pm PDT

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there's something more serious underneath all this. >> thank you. amazing panel. i really appreciate you guys joining me for the entire yehou. thank you so much. >> thanks, don. >> thank you. this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news, general michael flynn offering to break his silence, this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. president trump i's form nation security adviser who was intervy the fbi. only if he is given immunity from prosecution. flynn's attorney in a statement saying, "no reasonable person who has the benefit of advice from counsel would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized witch hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution." cnn's senior white house correspondent jeff zeleny has more. jeff? >> reporter: don, tonight we're learning former national security adviser michael flynn is offering to testify before
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the house and senate intelligence committees and perhaps even the fbi in exchange for some type of immunity. we have a statement from his lawyer tonight. it says this. it says "general flynn certainly has a story to tell and he very much wants to tell it should the circumstances permit." some very interesting words there, general flynn certainly has a story to tell. now, of course, the whole point of this are the conversations that general flynn had with any russian operatives. now, that ultimately led to his firing some 24 days into the white house administration because he was not upfront about all those conversations. he misled the vice president and others. now, the question here is, will the house and senate committees take him up on this? the senate committee had no comment this evening. the house committee said nothing has been offered on that at this point. but there will be a real fight here. some people will certainly want him to testify should they
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invite him in open session without any types of limitations here on immunity. but don, it certainly raises the question, general flynn has been gone from this white house for almost two months or so, but his shadow hangs over this administration. the russia investigation hangs over this entire administration. it's not quite -- it might be a bit too early to say they're paralyzed by it, but it is getting close to that point in terms of their agenda. their approval rating and other things. the white house tonight has no comment on the offer from general flynn. they certainly will be asking about it again tomorrow. >> absolutely. jeff zeleny, thank you very much. i appreciate that. now i want to bring in cnn senior political reporter nia-malika henderson. matt murray. and deputy assistant commerce secretary for the obama administration. also, joining us, cnn legal analyst, laura coates. matthew, thank you for joining us. laura, nia, welcome back. i appreciate you joining us this evening, coming on this evening. your reaction to tonight's
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breaking news, nia, news news that former attorney general, michael flynn, excuse me, national security adviser, michael flynn, saying this in a statement that on behalf of flynn, "general flynn certainly has a story to tell and he very much wants to tell it should the circumstances permit. no reasonable person who has the benefit of advice from counsel would submit to questioning in such a highly politicized witch hunt environment without assurances against unfair prosecution." what do you think? >> you know, i mean, two phrases that stick out to me from that statement are "general flynn has a story to tell." and that last word, "prosecution." prosecution, of course, brings to mind whether or not that story he has to tell involves any criminal activity that he engaged in or anyone else engaged in. i imagine this is going to be something that's very troubling for this white house. this is a white house that keeps getting sort of knocked back on its heels, hasn't been able to get out front of this russia investigation. has never been able to really give a credible explanation to what has gone on here other than
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to say, you know, this is basically conspiracy theory from democrats who were still hurting from hillary clinton's loss in november 2016. so we'll have to wait to see what sean spicer says tomorrow at that press briefing. obviously tonight they haven't said anything. and one of the things we've seen, i think, over these last weeks since flynn has been out of this white house, is this effort to really separate this white house from general flynn. at first, he was kind of a man who was wrongly maligned by the press, and honorable man this white house didn't want to let go. if you listen to spicer over the last week or so in talking about flynn, some point he referred to michael flynn as a volunteer from the campaign. so you see them trying to have some distance between flynn and other figures whose names have come up in this russia investigation. >> it's not -- >> my goodness, they got some trouble on their hands now. >> it's not as bad as they did
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with manafort by saying he had a limited role, they haven't gone that far yet. still, trying to separate themselves. laura, can you explain to us exactly how immunity works and why would flynn do this? >> well, immunity, there's basically two kinds of immunity. one that says anything you testify against, you're not going to be able to be prosecuted for. the other one says whatever you tell us we cannot prosecute you based on that unless we have some independent knowledge of the investigation you gave us. obviously everyone wants the former where you against transactional immunity for everything you have. either way, it goes to the department of justice. immunity is really a double-edged sword. on the one hand, you have to convince the prosecutor that it's worthwhile to give it to you. meaning, whatever you tell me, i have to actually already not know from somebody else, and two, that you are not the biggest fish i'm going after. the second thing is, well, here's how it works in the courtroom. a prosecutor who gives immunity is going to say, look, he's got
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nothing to lie about. he has no criminal, you know, noose waiting for him. on the flip side, the defense will say, there's no sense why he'd tell the truth or be forced to if he has immunity. that's why mark warner and other people want to have general flynn testify without the conditions because it actually boosts credibility to say, listen, i'm here of my own accord, i don't risk a criminal action. i don't fear one, for whatever reason, and therefore, i can truly be credible and forthcoming. of course, it's very interesting here because you want to look at the motivation of what general flynn is doing. his letter suggests vindication personally, but also remember, there was a law that was pass in this administration, anybody who works for the trump administration could not lobby on behalf of a foreign government ever again. and that was his primary source of income prior to do it. of course, he's looking and saying i got a story, i can't do anything else, and that's going to factor into a prosecutor saying, are you credible? and what's your motivation?
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>> interesting. matthew, the first line of this statement of general flynn's statement, reads "he certainly has a story to tell." i mean, talk about a tease. what does this mean to you? >> you know, that's the -- that's really unfortunate. i think the best thing about this story is the way the senate has responded to date. in other words, they have said, just hold on here, we will hear your testimony when we are good and ready, when we have laid a foundation for asking you the right questions, where we have sufficient evidence to be able to say, you know, this is what we need to establish with you, the predicates, and in other words, i think the statement seems to be playing games a little bit with the idea that there are real facts here that need to be established. and it's very important for all of us to remember that we're still in the middle of this new
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conflict with russia in which we are -- it's not just an information war. it's a war against information. and every time a player or a figure in this conflict steps in and sort of tries to manipulate either the procedures or the facts, they are demonstrating that this is not a -- they are not taking it seriously and that is when russia wins in its aims. >> what -- matthew, what stuck out to you as you watched the hearings today? >> well, i thought it was a great moment. i think we established a head if you will in new conflict with russia because both senators warner and senators burr established that they were going to conduct a thorough bipartisan and credible investigation, that they were going to focus on what exactly happened. what was new and different about russia's active measures toward the united states in 2015 and
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2016? russia's been conducting this type of political warfare against the united states for decades. and so what is it exactly that they did, how effective was it, how sophisticated was it? one of the most interesting findings today, don, was that they -- they showed that when typically when we and our cyber defensive mode detect that there's some cyber offense going on against one of our systems, and the russians know that we know, they will typically back off. they will try to disappear. and in the 2015-2016 scenario, they did not do that. so they were clearly more brazen. they were ready to up the stakes. and there's all sorts of evidence that they were more sophisticated in terms of how they timed the information, who they targeted and when they went after certain -- those targets.
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>> yeah. >> so now we have a serious investigation under way in the senate. they're going to try to establish the facts and equally important, they're going to try to help us understand how to respond. some of the best discussion today, don, was around what it is we need to do to have a whole of government response that provides a suite of options that includes diplomacy, our own cyber response, what kinds of sanctions and what other kinds of steps we need to take to make sure that russia pays the cost for past behavior and then -- >> to stop them. >> and deter in the future. >> to be deterred in the future, right. nia, i would show you pictures of the white house but the lights are off. what do you think they're thinking tonight inside that -- >> yeah, it's going to be hard for them to dismiss this as fake news or a hoax as we've seen them do already. you know, typically we've seen, i think, from this white house attempts to distract, right, you know, donald trump will tweet
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something as he did today about the failing "the new york times," raising the idea of changing the libel laws. >> nope, not anymore. >> that seems to have run its course. >> that's over. >> that doesn't work anymore. that is sort of a hiding place and a way to distract, just doesn't work anymore. so, you knows, i mean, i imagine that spicer and bannon and priebus and kellyanne conway and all of the president's advisers are trying to figure out how to talk about this tomorrow because this is going to be topic number one from spicer who has seemed all over the place in many of his briefings so far. i mean, stages you need like a roadmap or powerpoint presentation to figure out where he's going. on how he's sort of twisting in all of these stories. so, you know, this is the white house, again, that's back on its heels and has to figure out a way to change it. what was interesting about april ryan's question that got so much attention was how does this
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white house revamp its image, right? >> remember, and then sean spicer said, we don't have that. >> right. we don't have that. right. which was -- >> hello. >> -- not true. he said if he put russian salad dressing -- no, no, it's not a russian salad dressing. it's about michael flynn, right? it's about paul manafort, about carter page, it's about roger stone. i mean, it's about his son-in-law, jared kushner, who now is going to have to go and testify. you know, this was an administration that came in and talked about of the high i.q.s of everyone in the cabinet. >> the highest i.q. in the administration. >> these are the smartest people ever. my goodness, they are tripping all over themselves. >> can i -- >> in this first 70 days. >> laura, can i ask you this? you can answer, put whatever you wanted to say in there. nia mentioned manafort, former campaign manager, ceo, former adviser roger stone. former policy adviser carter page. just want to get their feets.
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they're going to have to testify before the house and senate. they say they are. does this put more pressure on them? >> yes. of course, the person who gets the immunity first is usually the one who scares everybody else and gets the best deal. remember, none of the other people have asked forrism m imm which begs the question why has flynn? if the white house really is smart right now, they have smart lawyers probably surrounding them, their biggest fear right now is what was not covered prior to the inauguration? remember, this executive privilege, the presidential privilege, there's going to be some limb nations on what flynn may be able to discuss about what he and president trump discussed. but however, if the investigation's really about the campaign, none of that's going to be privileged. so the white house counsel is going to have to figure out what are the limitations, and what period of time are we most fearful of? and the fbi has told them, since july to january 20th, that's your problem. that's not fake news. that's the amount of time that they're worrying about what
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flynn knew and what will not be covered presumably under presidential privilege. >> i think the fake news thing is going to come back to haunt them. >> a lot. >> a lot. >> back to haunt them. >> nia, matthew, laura. thank you. >> thank you. >> appreciate it. we're going to get to the politics of all of this, and we're going to take you to the ground. what are folks saying on the street about this? io, but.. well, what are you doing tomorrow -10am? staff meeting. noon? eating. 3:45? uh, compliance training. 6:30? sam's baseball practice. 8:30? tai chi. yeah, so sounds relaxing. alright, 9:53? i usually make their lunches then, and i have a little vegan so wow, you are busy. wouldn't it be great if you had investments that worked as hard as you do? yeah. introducing essential portfolios. the automated investing solution that lets you focus on your life.
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and if you're not guilty of a crime, why do you need immunity for, right? >> very last thing that john podesta just said is no individual too big to jail, that should include people like hillary clinton. i mean, five people around her have been given immunity to include her former chief of staff. when you are given immunity, that means you probably committed a crime. >> here to discuss, bakari sellers, syndicated talk radio hope, john fredericks. grover norquist, president of americans for tax reform. and political commentator, matt lewis. bakari, you saw that was general flynn on "meet the press." general flynn said this at the national convention last july. >> we do not need a reckless president who believes she is
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above the law. [ crowd chanting "lock her up" ] >> lock her up. that's right. that's right. lock her up. if i -- a guy who knows this business -- if i did a tenth, a tenth of what she did, i would be in jail today. >> bakari? >> well, first, don, i have to caution individuals especially my friends on the left from jumping to conclusions when people start talking about exerting their right to the fifth amendment or immunity because that doesn't necessarily mean that someone is guilty of a crime. i didn't like when the trump campaign did it during the campaign. and i don't want people to jump to that now. i think we still have to dig and find facts. however, on the flip side of this, the hypocrisy of michael
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flynn and donald trump is extremely thick. mr. "lock her up" has now become mr. "please don't lock me up." so i think what we're starting to see here is this trump campaign one by one, whether or not it's manafort or kushner or flynn or roger stone, the list goes on and on and on. the stories, these facts are coming out and they're beginning to unravel. and before any other commentator gets up here and starts talking about the fact that, you know, hillary clinton may have had this person seek immunity or that person plead the fifth, ici want to put this out here first. the principal in the hillary clinton discussion was hillary clinton, herself. she sat dune aown and testified 11 hours, everything that surrounded her server, benghazi, everyone else had to ask about. if donald trump is willing to do that, you can make that argument. if not, the argument is no more than a red herring. >> i was speaking earlier with my producers i often hear the
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entire campaign, democrats have come on, and they would say, and hillary supporters, hillary clinton supporters, saying she should not have had the server, it was a bad idea. it was a mistake. it was bad judgments. but they warranted enough for her to go to jail or she shouldn't be president because of it. i don't hear that from the trump side. it's always an excuse for something they never, ever say that it's a question of donald trump's judgment to have people around him like michael flynn. why does that happen? >> i think it's part of donald trump's m.o., and it's that you never admit defeat, you never admit guilt or a mistake. instead, you punch and you counterpunch and i think that that has been eternalized by donald trump supporters. they're basically taking their page from him. i also think that, you know, to some degree, conservatives and especially the donald trump wing
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of the right hasinferi inferiority complex but a sense of victimhood. they've internalized that as well. and so i just think that that's essentially the difference, both sides, of course, play politics, but i do think that you're not going to find a lot of trump supporters who are going to make admissions against interests. so to speak. >> when bakari said that, it made me think of that because a bakari said, i'm sort of paraphrasing, i question democrats for doing that and, you know, basically saying you don't necessarily take the fifth or immunity if you -- right? so -- >> yeah, there's also a -- i'll just say real quick, i think amongst conservatives who go on tv, there's this sense that you're outnumbered and the media is liberal and if you are the person who's on tv ostensibly to defend donald trump, then you need to defend donald trump.
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whether he deserves it or not right? in some cases you would be defending the indefensible. i think some people end up looking silly when they do that, to be honest with you. >> john, what is president trump going to do, defend flynn or distance himself from him? >> well, this isn't about admitting anything because there's no proof anywhere in any situation that there was any collusion with the russians. this thing has been going on, this investigation has been going on since july. and all we have is hyperbole. there's nothing there. so as far as donald trump admitting something, admit what? that he won the election? i mean, this is the most ridiculous thing i've ever seen in my life. it goes on and on and on. >> john, perhaps you didn't hear the question. >> there's no evidence whatsoever -- >> perhaps you didn't hear the question. my question is whether or not he's going to admit something. i said, what is he going to do? distance himself from flynn or himself -- or stand up for him? that's what i said.
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i didn't say -- >> i think he's going to do what -- i think donald -- i think president trump is going to do what he always does. he's going to seek the truth and let this thing play out and, look, general flynn, all he did tonight, his lawyers asked for immunity. guess what, michael flynn read the "art of the deal." trying to get immunity, he's first in the door. he comes out with his caveat and said, well, there's going to be lots of information out there. maybe the information isn't anything, but why not get immunity? this is a negotiation ploy, a great move by flynn. we look forward to him exonerating trump and everybody else. >> okay. >> you really u got to look at this, don, you got to look at the timeline on this. this is what everybody's missing. >> i got other guests to get in. alice, go on. >> yeah, to the notion of what bakari said, look, there is a great deal in this whole scenario that does not pass the smell test, but you also have to consider the notion here with regard to flynn, why he is seeking immunity. there's the possibility it could have to do with his failure to
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disclose some of his business ties with turkey and with russia. he got in a great deal of trouble with that. that is big reason why he's no longer with the administration. and oftentimes people seek immunity so they're not caught up in a technicality on another issue while they're testifying about the main issue. that was also a big part of why those with the hillary -- connections with the hillary hearings sought immunity so they wouldn't get caught up in a technicality. that being said, there's so much smoke here that while we have not seen the fire, i agree with john, there's no hard concrete evidence, there's so much smoke here. i think the administration needs to do everything they possibly can to get back on track, talking about the issues that people are concerned with because this right here is such a huge distraction and just not productive. >> yeah, grover, i always appreciate your perspective. what do you think? >> i'm -- look, the president just put gorsuch forward. we're about to have a supreme court nominee which reestablishes the center right supreme court. he just put an fcc commissioner
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in that's going to deregulate 15% of the economy. there's a trillion dollar tax cut on the table and a trillion dollar spending cut. this other stuff is sort of vaguely distracting, but in terms of what people are going to remember five months from now and two years from now when there's an election, there's some huge steps forward from the standpoint of a republican and conservative, reagan republican that is moving forward in ways that i didn't think would be coming necessarily in a trump administration. at least not as strong and as quickly and as thoroughly as this. i mean, the new fcc acting commissioner -- >> sounds like you're saying accountability doesn't meratter though. again, it's an investigation. they have found nothing. >> yeah. >> if something pans out here and, you know, he's asking for immunity and he testifies that something -- even though, you know, his agenda is you say it's happening or he's pushing it through -- >> yeah.
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>> he shouldn't be accountable to truth and the facts and to the laws and to the emoluments clauses in the constitution in all of that? >> well, you're sets up a serious of hypotheticals and saying what if all these things were true, then there'd be a problem. >> grover, not to argue with you, it seems like you're ignoring what's in front of your face here. just to have the former, you know, adviser, national security adviser, ask for immunity is big enough in itself. who knows what's going to come out of that. maybe nothing will, but seems like you're ignoring that and then saying, well look over here. yes, those other things are important, but this is important as well. we can handle both at the same time. >> okay. you asked earlier is the president going to distance himself from flynn? flynn is the former national security guy. he's not in the white house. he has been -- i don't know how much more distanced do you get than you're not working here anymore? >> that's it? >> right? you asked the question. it seems to me he distanced himself. >> quickly -- i got to get a break.
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>> manafort's out. stone's out. the list of people you got are a bunch of people who aren't in the administration. >> okay. bakari, stand by. on the other side. we'll be right back.
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we're back. back with my panel. sorry, we have to take breaks. don't get mad at me, penal ople home. i want to move on to the freedom caucus. you wanted to respond to what grover was saying. >> i was to chime in quickly with grover. if the highlight of your first 70 days as chairman of the fcc, you haven't really done much. talking about trump's jaeagenda what people fail to realize, what you failed to mention, one of the centerpieces of his jaepd, a travel ban that's been denied not once but twice. had to fire his nsa director because he lied to the vice president. it's not as if he mysteriously disappeared or went away. the trillion dollars worth of tax cuts are not being offset by trillion dollars worth of spending because that was based upon the affordable care act actually passing. which failed. and so when you think about all of that, the larger stories we have are manafort, flynn and kushner. the largest stories we have are
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russia. and we cannot turn our head away from that and stick it in the sand. >> grover, do you need to respond? i really want to move to the freedom caucus. >> i think the democrats should focus on this stuff and let us reshape the supreme court and 15% of the economy through the fcc which you think is uninteresting. i'm delighted you think it's uninteresting. >> okay. on any other day, we would have been -- this would have been the lead story because republican president went after republican elected officials today on twitter. first he said the freedom caucus will hurt the entire republican agenda if they don't get on the team and fast. we must fight them and dems in 2018." he named names. put all the names of all the folks. he said all of these people, paul labrador, jim jordan, they would need to get on board or we would have both great health care, massive tax cuts and reform." that was to bakari's point. then on and on. you can put his tweets up. so, he is putting his own party on notice, grover.
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we spent a lot of time together. what do you think of this strategy? >> 90% of a republican caucus in support of a trillion dollar tax cut, matched with more than a trillion dollars in spending in the repeal of obamacare. you got block granting medicaid which is building on the success hillary clinton had with block granting families with dependent children. it's a very significant reform what he's doing is talking to the members of the freedom caucus. >> calling the very people out who got him -- who helped to get him elected? i mean, those are the people who put him over the mark. over the line. >> the three guys he mentioned? >> yeah, the people helped -- the constituents in those districts helped donald trump. >> donald trump is talking to his voters. i was meeting with the pro-life people, unhappy with the freedom caucus's decision to undermine the effort to defund planned parenthood. they're going to be talking to their constituents as well because there's a very important
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issue before congress which is getting rid of balm. ma ca obamacare and trillion dollars in obamacare taxes, more than a trillion dollars in spending and reforming the system. >> if you talk to moderates and people who are, you know -- they will tell you 17% approval rating for something, it doesn't do any of them any good, john. do you think the tweets are a negotiating tactic? you think they'll work? >> look, grover, great spin, lousy bill. nobody trusted paul ryan. down a path that couldn't work. ivanka trump and jared kushner, two key advisers, told him it was a bad strategy going in. he didn't pay attention to them. he got burned. now, this tweet on the freedom caucus, this is a negotiating tactic. what he realized in this whole negotiation is that he can deal with the moderates one-on-one. the freedom group, 25 of them vote in a bloc. so he's got to break that up and he's got to be able to negotiate with them on an individual
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basis. >> got to get some democrats. >> his tweet was a brilliant negotiating tactic for the future. i commend him for that. >> yeah, hey, a lxlice, can we you and matt on the other side of the break? >> absolutely. >> all right. i thought i had it covered. then i realized managing was all i was doing. when i finally told my doctor, he said humira was for people like me who have tried other medications,... but still experience the symptoms of moderate to severe crohn's disease. in clinical studies, the majority of patients on humira saw significant symptom relief... ...and many achieved remission. humira can lower your ability to fight infections... ...including tuberculosis. serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers,... including lymphoma, have happened; as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions,... ...and new or worsening heart failure. before treatment, get tested for tb. tell your doctor if you've been to areas where certain fungal infections are common, and if you've had tb,... ...hepatitis b, are prone to infections, ...or have flu-like symptoms or sores.
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back now with my panel. i'm laughing because there are people on social media saying that i'm not having the same conversation with my panel. basically they're saying some of you are not answering my questions. which happens a lot. so alice, just days after the health care debacle, the white house deputy chief of staff katie walsh leaving her post. is this just the beginning do you think of a white house staff shakeup? >> that remains to be seen. she was an integral part of the administration and as well as the campaign. she was certainly a key adviser for reince priebus, but in terms of where they see her best skills now, she is going to be moving to outside groups that will help further the trump
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agenda and be able to work with outside groups and bring them on the table. certainly after the health care debacle, they certainly need to be doing that. i do want to mention one thing. i answered that question, but let me just say this with regard to the freedom caucus. look, it's a sad day when members of congress are criticized for standing on principle. >> right. >> as for freedom caucus being a bloc, they were told specifically by congressman meadows they don't have to vote with the freedom caucus on this, this is too important. if they want to vote yes in support of this, they can do that. they need to do what's in the best interest of their constituents. stood firm on no because they wanted lower premiums and greater access to health care which this bill did not do. >> the reason i asked the question, i don't see the point in attacking your base. he needs to get as many people onboard with him as possible. including some democrats. but back to the -- let's get back to katie walsh, matt. katie walsh is a skey ally of reince priebus. served as his chief of staff at the rnc. what do you think this move means for priebus' future in the trump administration?
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does it change anything? >> well, reading the -- you could read the tea leaves and try to speculate on that. it could be nothing. or it could be something. i mean, this -- he's losing his key lieutenant, you know, rumor was that, you know, reince felt like he needed to physically be with donald trump all the time because that's the way you get influence is to actually constantly be in front of donald trump and then she would actually be essentially fulfilling the traditional role of the chief of staff. >> yeah. >> so now he's losing this trusted aide who's, you know, very competent and respected. so it's not good for him trying to -- he's already got a tough job as it is. >> matt took up most of your time, so it's a lightning round for everybody else. john, you predicted that when ivanka came on with her role officially, you predicted that katie would be out. >> yes, i did. >> you think she's going it be taking on that role? >> here's the deal, okay? nice lady, overmatched.
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there's a new sheriff in town. her name is ivanka trump. everybody's really got to get this. ivanka trump is a protector of the brand of the trump president. she's the protector of the movement. she's been there from day one. she's the eyes and ears of what's going on. there's a new sheriff in town. and all this infighting that's going on, one faction, the other faction, who's up, who's down, all that ended when ivanka trump came in and took a legitimate position. you're going to see a very different white house now. >> but the kind of policy -- >> this woman is very tough, don. she is -- you know what, they built a $10 billion company and they started when they were millions of dollars in the hole. she is very tough. >> she has no government experience. >> she's no b.s. she's going to stop the nonsense. >> her policies are not the same as the kind of, you knows, traditional conservative policies that grover is in favor of. grover? >> her policies are the policies of donald trump that got him elected. >> grover. >> she was right there the whole
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way. >> grover. >> she's going to be the difference maker. >> you look like john now. go ahead, grover. >> i don't know ivanka or how that's going to play out. i tend to trust that trump has laid out a list of things he wants to do and i think his agenda has been fairly helpful and it's movie ining forward a faster than you normally expect. >> okay. >> from a president. >> i got to go. bakari, blame john fredericks. he took your time. he took your time. all right. thank you very much. you guys like that. took your time. took your time. we come back, the worldwide consequences of the rocky relationship between russia and the u.s. ♪ hi, i'm frank. i take movantik for oic, opioid-induced constipation.
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isis behind the mask. in this new documentary, cnn's senior international correspondent clarissa ward tells the story of a young man from belgium who joined isis and then returned home. and she joins me now. so good to have you this. is such an interesting. i've been watching the previews. can i ask you about russia? the reason i say that is because russia is so integral. it's a big factor in the battle against isis in syria. can you explain that right now? >> so isis has been taking a beating in iraq and syria, predominantly at the hands i should say of the u.s.-led coalition. but russia has been trying to promote its own intervention in syria as a crackdown on isis. and they have had some limited gains against isis on the battlefield, most notably in the ancient and beautiful city of palmy palmyra. but for the most part russia's efforts in syria have not been focused on isis, but have actually been focused on the
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opposition that is fighting against the brutal dictatorship of bashar al assad. so while russia claims and postures to be this credible force that is fighting against isis in syria, i think it's fair to say that the vast majority of russia's firepower has not gone towards eliminating isis, but has gone towards wiping out the opposition that is fighting bashar al assad. >> you mention bashar al assad. senators lindsey graham and john mccain both blasting the secretary of state tillerson for suggesting that bashar al assad can stay, basically. why is this such a controversial thing for him to have said? >> it's controversial for a couple of reasons. primarily, when we talk about isis, and we talk about extremism, particularly in the context of syria, we have to understand that isis was born in the vacuum of syria's civil war. and the hideous outpouring of grotesque violence that we have seen as a result of isis has come from the crackdown of the
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dictatorship of bashar al assad which has killed hundreds of thousands of people. many more people than isis has even killed. so when you talk about trying to eliminate isis, you can't really do that without trying to find some peaceful resolution to the syrian civil war. to be fair to the trump administration, while the obama administration had talked about the fact that they thought that bashar al assad should go, they did not actually really take many steps to put that into practice, to make that happen. beginning with the backing way from the red line after the assad regime used chemical weapons against its own people, killed more than a thousand. from that moment on it became very clear that the u.s. wasn't going to take a more aggressive stance, that it wasn't going to get more involved. and now we're hearing secretary of state rex tillerson essentially just reiterating that now we're going to not even posture and pretend that we are trying to end this brutal
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dictatorship, which has released so much evil and terror on the world. >> i want to get to your special now, this documentary. "isis behind the mask." let's take a look and then we'll discuss. >> meet eunice della forte. a 28-year-old isis veteran. unis offers a rare insight into the mind of an unrepentant isis supporter. >> we are muslims who are dreaming of a caliphate. every muslim in the world even if he has a beard from one meter to one millimeter, a muslim has to believe in a caliphate. >> reporter: that dream led unis to the civil war in syria and to isis. he says he never killed anyone there. let me ask you something. if you had been asked while you were in syria to execute someone, would you have done it? >> look, in islam there is the pledge of allegiance.
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>> would you have done it? >> because you have to obey the amir. >> so you would have. >> it's islamic law. believe me, it's not a funny thing to execute people. it's something terrible, but yeah. >> how did he -- because as i was watching that, i was saying to you, he looks just like such a normal person. how did he end up joining isis? >> well, i think what unis really shows us, don, in a sense is that islamic extremism is no long their remote external foreign threat of dark men with long beards speaking in different tongues and far-flung parts of the world. islamic extremism exists now very much in the west within our own societies. and authorities are really struggling to grapple with trying to ascertain which young men like unis have actually become severely radicalized to the point where they would actually carry out violent attacks on their own people. and which are maybe partially
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radicalized or radicalized but still not violent. it's a very gray, gray area. unis' specific case, he had a slightly troubled upbringing, converted to islam at about 17 years old. and after a few years, fell in with a very sort of silver tongued svengali street preacher who essentially took the minds of young men and twisted them and provided a pipeline for them to travel to syria. >> he was in syria and now he is in europe. now is he dangerous? >> this is what torts are left trying to grapple with. based on the time that i have spent with unis and the conversations that we have had, he is very insistent that he would not carry out a violent attack in europe, that he does not want to implement violence to carry out his beliefs. so i would be inclined to believe him. on the other hand, he was just charged with domestic abuse, sentenced to 18 months. he is appealing that sentence. but i think what it goes to show
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you is even when you think you know someone, even when you're inclined to believe someone, at the end of the day, you really don't know. and how are authorities supposed to know? it's not illegal to be an extremist, don. it's not illegal to hold repugnant and offensive views. and how do you know who is going to break the law, who is going to take that step and what the tipping point is. >> thank you, clarissa ward. i can't wait to watch this. cnn special report, "isis behind the mask." clarissa ward reports tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. eastern and pacific. that's it for us tonight. thank you so much for watching. ? no, i'm talking before that. do you have things you want to do before you retire? oh yeah sure... ok, like what? but i thought we were supposed to be talking about investing for retirement? we're absolutely doing that. but there's no law you can't make the most of today. what do you want to do? i'd really like to run with the bulls. wow. yea. hope you're fast. i am. get a portfolio that works for you now and as your needs change.
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good evening. thanks for joining us. we begin tonight with breaking news on the russian investigation. and it is potentially thermonuclear. the "wall street journal" is reporting that michael flynn, the national security adviser who lasted only 24 days on the job has offered to talk to the fbi and others. flynn was fired for phone conversations with the russian ambassador in washington. joining us is carol lee who is on the story byline. what have you learned that michael flynn has offered to the fbi and

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